Recently my dryer stopped working. I checked the outlet with a voltmeter and found that one leg delivered 120 volts but the other only delivered about 30 volts. Is this a bad breaker or a bad outlet?

Electrical Services

First, if you haven't worked with electricity before, you should consult a professional. Next, start at the source.

  • Put one lead on the ground/neutral bar in the power panel and then the other on the screw on the first leg of the breaker. It should read 110v to 124v.
  • Do the same with the second leg of the breaker. If you have 110v on each leg, then power is being sent to the outlet. If not, change the breaker.
If power is going to both sides of the breaker, test the outlet:
  • Put one lead of your voltmeter into the bottom round hole on the outlet, or a source that is grounded.
  • Next, check the other two parts of the outlet one at a time. If each one does not read about 110v, turn the breaker off and pull the outlet.
  • Make sure the outlet isn't being grounded. Turn the power back on and check the voltage of the incoming wires. If they have power and the outlet does not, then it's a bad outlet.
  • In sum, if there is no voltage at the breaker it's most likely the breaker. If there is no power at the outlet, then it's a line break or a bad outlet.
  • If there is power to the outlet on both sides, and between the two you get 220v, then you have a problem with your dryer or other device.